The winner of the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 was announced on Thursday 12 July in Liverpool. The artist, Jacqui Hallum with her painting King and Queen of Wands (2017), took the top prize. Hallum is the 30th winner of the £25,000 award, held every two years and running simultaneously with the opening of the Liverpool Biennial.
King and Queen of Wands uses three loose cotton sheets which have been stained, dyed and painted with inks. It is part of a large body of work by the artist which draws inspiration from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Illustrations of a king and queen can be seen at either end of the artwork. Hallum describes the space in between the figures as akin to ‘a reading’.
“I think it’s a wonderful work and a clear winner” – Lubaina Himid
Hallum’s painting was selected from more than 2,700 entries which were judged anonymously by an esteemed panel of jurors including the artists Monster Chetwynd, Turner Prize winner 2017 Lubaina Himid CBE, Bruce McLean and Liu Xiaodong, and curator Jenni Lomax. King and Queen of Wands is one of 60 paintings to be exhibited in the John Moores Painting Prize 2018. This free exhibition will be held at the Walker from 14 July to 18 November as part of Liverpool Biennial 2018.
Juror Jenni Lomax, said: “Amidst the passionate and heated selection process, Jacqui Hallum’s painting emerged as the clear winner. There is something about the provisional and nomadic nature of the work that makes it feel very current. At the same time, an initial sense of lightness belies historical and personal references that collapse within its folds.”
Born in Wembley, London, Hallum is now based in Totnes, Devon. She attended Coventry School of Art and Design 1996-9 and the Slade School of Fine Art 2000-2. Her work has been exhibited widely across the UK. Hallum recently trained to become a gardener and her artworks regularly move between her own garden and studio. She is interested in organic growth and decay, acknowledging that her artworks are themselves subject to change, decay and entropy.
Describing her approach to painting, Hallum said: “I have a studio in the front of my flat and a garden at the back; these are both places where my paintings are made, often going back and forth between the two, or spending a night, or a week, out of doors. I like to see them differently, but I also like to watch what happens as they take on a rain storm or the piecing sun. If they survive then they have what it takes.”
In celebration of the Prize’s 60th anniversary year, an additional award will be offered to Hallum as the first prize winner – a three-month fellowship at Liverpool John Moores University, together with an in-focus solo display at the Walker Art Gallery in 2019.
Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said: “We’re thrilled that Jacqui has been awarded the John Moores Painting Prize in its 60th year. Her approach to painting is very special, resulting in highly individual artworks inspired by a wonderfully diverse range of stimuli. There is something truly captivating in the way that her beautifully illustrated sheets reveal and conceal stories within their folds.”
King and Queen of Wands was selected from a shortlist of five paintings, which also included Quilt by Billy Crosby; The Thunderous Silence of Your Presence by Tom Howse; GIANTS by Joseph O’Rourke and The Divide, Beyond Reasoning by Shanti Panchal. Each of these shortlisted artists will receive a prize of £2,500. Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to vote for their favourite painting to win the popular Visitors’ Choice Award, sponsored by Rathbones, the winner of which will receive £2,018.
Established by Sir John Moores in 1957, the Prize has awarded more than £605,000 in prize money across 29 exhibitions, which have showcased more than 2,200 works of art. The Prize presents a rich history of post-war painting in Britain. The first exhibition was held only six years after the Walker Art Gallery re-opened following the second world war. Hallum joins its esteemed alumni including David Hockney, Mary Martin, Peter Doig, Keith Coventry, Sarah Pickstone and Rose Wylie among others.
Five prizewinning paintings from the fifth John Moores Painting Prize China will also be displayed in the 2018 exhibition. Organised by the College of Fine Arts at Shanghai University, the China Prize was launched in 2010 to support the development of painting in China.
Photos © P C Robinson Artlyst 2018